<CharlieDigital/> Programming, Politics, and uhh…pineapples


Another Day, Another Endorsement…

Posted by Charles Chen

This time, from Alaska's own Anchorage Daily News:

Sen. Barack Obama, the Democratic nominee, brings far more promise to the office. In a time of grave economic crisis, he displays thoughtful analysis, enlists wise counsel and operates with a cool, steady hand. The same cannot be said of Sen. McCain.

Sen. Obama warned regulators and the nation 19 months ago that the subprime lending crisis was a disaster in the making. Sen. McCain backed tighter rules for Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, but didn't do much to advance that legislation. Of the two candidates, Sen. Obama better understands the mortgage meltdown's root causes and has the judgment and intelligence to shape a solution, as well as the leadership to rally the country behind it. It is easy to look at Sen. Obama and see a return to the smart, bipartisan economic policies of the last Democratic administration in Washington, which left the country with the momentum of growth and a budget surplus that President George Bush has squandered.

What's next, Obama winning Arizona?

In a separate endorsement, the Financial Times writes:

Obama is the better choice

...a campaign is a test of leadership. Mr Obama ran his superbly; Mr McCain’s has often looked a shambles. After eight years of George W. Bush, the steady competence of the Obama operation commands respect.

In responding to the economic emergency, Mr Obama has again impressed – not by advancing solutions of his own, but in displaying a calm and methodical disposition, and in seeking the best advice. Mr McCain’s hasty half-baked interventions were unnerving when they were not beside the point.

On foreign policy, where the candidates have often conspired to exaggerate their differences, this contrast in temperaments seems crucial. For all his experience, Mr McCain has seemed too much guided by an instinct for peremptory action, an exaggerated sense of certainty, and a reluctance to see shades of grey.

John Hodgman -- you may know him as "PC" from the Apple commercials -- raises some excellent points in an interview over at The A.V. Club:

JH: The thing that I find so compelling is that right now Obama's whole campaign strategy is simply [to] speak to people as though they were adults and trust that the truth of the world situation will be evident to them. For him to be attacked as a friend of a terrorist, for "palling" around with terrorists and to simply go back and say, "No, I'm not"? That was such a refreshing political moment. It's like he's saying, "Oh, you know that's not true. You know what's happening here." So much of the past eight years in politics, whether you're a Democrat or a Republican, you have to acknowledge is based on what the Bush people to themselves have described outside the reality-based community. That the words they were speaking had no basis in reality and they felt no compulsion to exist in a real world. They were creating a world of their own imagining.


Do I think that his candidacy is historic? Sure, that's exciting too, but what I think it's really amazing that he exists in the same world that I also inhabit and no other political candidate lives in that world right now. They live in a made-up world that is not reality. I think that that's why you see Obama surging right now. It's that the people like the fact that Obama lives in the world that they live in.

I think the keyword is "reality".  Hodgman hits it on the head with regards to why Bush has failed and why McCain has also failed to deliver (so far) in this campaign.  Neither man seems to be comfortable embracing reality.

An excellent interview that's worth a read.

Also, two of my favorite images from this election:

Check out the official flickr photostream for more good stuff.

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Castlevania: Order of Ecclesia Review

Posted by Charles Chen

I played the game for about 6-7 hours yesterday. I wasn't immediately smitten with it, but once I got into it, I couldn't put it down.

I was thinking about it this morning as I was taking a shower and I've personally come to some conclusions about why this game is so awesome:

1) The enemies actually have resistance/weakness attributes and it actually matters. In the CVs that I've played (AoS, PoR), you could hack your way through the game with one of the more powerful weapons against nearly every single enemy. For example: Claimh Solais. Once you obtained this weapon, you basically didn't need to use anything else and all strategy -- for most of the game -- was thrown out the window. The same is also true for the soul system as well: it didn't really matter which soul you used once you found a powerful one.

In OoE, you are constantly switching glyph sets, even when you revisit parts of the game which should be a cakewalk. Of course, the beautiful part of this is that they put in a very simple - yet powerful - system to set up sets of glyphs. The sleeve system empowers the player and makes the experience fun, strategically. If they had forced players to go into the start screen (i.e. no sleeve system), this game would not be as enjoyable. As an example, I always thought that one of the shortcomings of MGS3 was that it could have played up the role of camo a bit more and made it more strategically fun if it wasn't such a pain in the ass to keep switching camo by going into the menu.

There's also some variety in how dual wielding stacks. As I said: this game empowers the player through the superb control system and introduces an element of strategic action, but in a way that doesn't punish the player by having to take the experience out of the action and into the menu system. It makes it a joy to play.

2) The glyph union system, while limited, is pretty awesome. I would have liked to see more distinct combination types. For example, if you combine a non-weapon type glyph with a weapon type glyph, you get the same animation and same attack characteristics, regardless of which weapon type you combine it with. It would have been cool if you ended up with a greater variety of combinations to experiment with. For example, combining the ice glyph with a sword type glyph would yield a different result than combining the ice glyph with an ax type glyph.

But still, while it's not very deep, it's deep enough that it adds variety to how you configure your glyphs.

3) While the game is not "OMG I'M GOING TO THROW THIS ACROSS THE ROOM IF I DIE ONE MORE TIME" hard, it's definitely not as easy as the other CVs I've played. The key is that it's not hard in a cheesy way. At all times, you feel that Shanoa is sufficiently powerful; I would summarize it as "it's hard in terms of strategic action". It's not mindless hack-n-slash.

Also, the item system is very limited (in a good way). There aren't absurdly powerful items in the game (yet) that nullify the need for player skill. This is a good thing. Healing items are VERY weak, in general.

4) As an extension of (3), I think they did a good job balancing the game. Shanoa's life meter isn't absurdly high to the point where she can just take damage and slash her way through bosses. Also, using MP for attacks adds to that sense of balance: you can't just slash your way through with your most powerful glyph. You need to consider strategy. The glyph union/heart system is also a nice touch since it means you can't just spam your most powerful attacks and expect to win. At least to this point, at every boss encounter, I've run out of hearts long before the battle has been over.


Conclusion: this game is solid, fun, and ultimately very satisfying. It's everything that's right about gaming.  If you have a DS, you owe it to yourself to get this game.

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Continuing a Trend

Posted by Charles Chen

Yesterday at dinner, a coworker brought up the election and my support for Obama.  The conversation started something like: "So I can't believe you're voting for Obama."  It diverged into various topics from healthcare to gun control to experience to socialism.  It was a great conversation and it felt good to be able to have such a civil converstation with a friend from a staunchly Republican state.  America needs more dialogue like the one we had over dinner last night; America needs a sanity check against extremism towards either side of the spectrum and understand that divided we fail.

But today, as I was following the news, it struck me that I'm not the one that should be questioned about my support for Obama -- I'm a 20-something moderate liberal from New Jersey, after all :-D.  The statement should really be made to the various high profile conservatives who have now come out in support of Obama, including Colin Powell.

The latest round of conservatives supporting Obama comes by way of Charles Fried:

Reagan Appointee and (Recent) McCain Adviser Charles Fried Supports Obama

Charles Fried, a professor at Harvard Law School, has long been one of the most important conservative thinkers in the United States. Under President Reagan, he served, with great distinction, as Solicitor General of the United States. Since then, he has been prominently associated with several Republican leaders and candidates, most recently John McCain, for whom he expressed his enthusiastic support in January.

This week, Fried announced that he has voted for Obama-Biden by absentee ballot. In his letter to Trevor Potter, the General Counsel to the McCain-Palin campaign, he asked that his name be removed from the several campaign-related committees on which he serves. In that letter, he said that chief among the reasons for his decision "is the choice of Sarah Palin at a time of deep national crisis."

Fried is exceptionally thoughtful and principled; his vote for Obama is especially noteworthy.

and Larry Wilkerson:

Foreign Policy: Colin Powell endorsed Democratic presidential nominee Barack Obama this weekend on Meet the Press. How significant was that move for General Powell, and was it something you expected?

Larry Wilkerson: I was stunned. I was ecstatic. I was thrilled, but I was stunned. I thought that he would come forward and make statements about the need to tamp down the hatred and the vitriol that seemed to be surrounding Senator McCain and Governor Palin’s rallies. And I thought he would use the opportunity to make his strong point about Muslims. I thought he would take the opportunity to reinforce that we need to restore America’s reputation and solve this financial crisis. But I didn’t think that he would endorse a particular candidate.

FP: What do you see as the strengths and weaknesses of each of the candidates in foreign policy?

LW: Both have strengths. I’m not quite sure what I would describe as Obama’s weaknesses, not because I’m trying to say that he’s perfect but because he’s so unflappable and so far his pronouncements have been so solid.

With McCain, I’m alarmed by the lack of sophistication on issues such as Iran; the bomb Iran [idea] seemed to come out of [McCain’s] passion more than his judgment. I’m alarmed by the people around him; [many] are radicals. They are just like the Wolfowitzes and the Perles of the world. Calling them conservatives offends the title. I have grave difficulty with McCain taking advice from these people. I am concerned with his inability to accept that we have to leave Iraq. Victory is not coming home with trumpets blaring; it is leaving a relatively stable government in place that won’t fall in first five minutes and not resort to civil war. He still thinks that victory was possible in my war, Vietnam, which I know was not correct. Those kinds of things concern me.

and Bill Weld, the former governer of Massachuesetts who supported Romney in the primaries, also voiced his support for Obama:

Weld told the Associated Press that while he has never endorsed a Democrat for president before, his choice in recent weeks became "close to a no-brainer."

"It's not often you get a guy with his combination of qualities, chief among which I would say is the deep sense of calm he displays, and I think that's a product of his equally deep intelligence," he said.

Weld said his decision was not based on McCain's weaknesses.

Weld said, "Senator Obama is a once-in-a-lifetime candidate who will transform our politics and restore America's standing in the world. We need a president who will lead based on our common values and Senator Obama demonstrates an ability to unite and inspire. Throughout this campaign I've watched his steady leadership through trying times and I'm confident he is the best candidate to move our country forward."

It's interesting, to me at least, because I would think that a self professed moderate liberal would be the last person that would suprise anyone by voting for Obama 😉 when there are plenty of high profile conservatives who have already voiced support for Obama.  And certainly, each of these folks have the right to support any individual they wish -- be it Paul, Barr, Romney, or anyone else for that matter -- but they have come out in overwhelming support for Obama. 

So the question shouldn't be why guys like me are supporting Obama; the question should be why guys like Weld, Powell, Wilkerson, Fried, Wick Allison, Christopher Buckley, Susan Eisenhower, and CC Goldwater are not just rebuking McCain, but actively showing support for Obama when they can choose neither candidate and/or stay silent on the topic; heck, they could even write in their candidate of choice.

I hope more moderate conservatives around the country start to examine why many high profile Republicans and conservatives have come out in support of Barack Obama.  It's hard to use the "hype", "brainwashing", or "no substance" argument when several conservatives (far more distinguised and more accomplished than myself -- not even the same plane) have chosen to support Obama when they are free to support any alternative they wish.

Is it really that the liberal masses are acting like sheep and overdosing on Hopium?  Is it really the case that Obama is just empty rhetoric and merely an eloquent speaker?  Or perhaps these seasonsed veterans of politics and veterans of a now perverted conservative movement have seen something in Barack Obama to lead them to believe that perhaps, just maybe, there is a slight chance this guy has the potential to be not just a good president, but a great president?

I don't know; I'll leave this as an exercise for the reader to consider these endorsements and votes from several high profile conservatives, Republicans, and traditionally conservative newspapers.

As a closing comment, I'd like to share a story by way of Ben Smith, a story of a guy named Mike who went to the polls with his Dale Earnhardt jacket fully prepared to cast a vote for McCain:

"Obama's going to win, and I didn't want to tell my grandchildren some day that I had an opportunity to vote for the first black president, but I missed my chance at history and voted for the other guy."

Food for thought.

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Unlikely Endorsements

Posted by Charles Chen

Not that these things mean much in the big picture, but it's interesting to see the sentiment around the country.

Notably, the Salt Lake Tribune (of all newspapers):

A simple choice: The nation needs Barack Obama in the White House

Over the 22 months since announcing his improbable candidacy, Obama has transcended his image as a mere political and racial phenomenon. Though blessed with uncommon skills as a writer and orator, he was mistakenly thought to possess too little political experience, too little backbone, and too little evidence of the tangible and intangible, qualities we ascribe to the best of our leaders.

Still, we have compelling reasons for endorsing Obama on his merits alone. Under the most intense scrutiny and attacks from both parties, Obama has shown the temperament, judgment, intellect and political acumen that are essential in a president that would lead the United States out of the crises created by President Bush, a complicit Congress and our own apathy.

McCain's foreign policy objectives virtually replicate Bush's disastrous course. His disdain for diplomacy is troubling, and his faith in eventual U.S. "victory" in Iraq is ill-defined. We simply cannot afford perpetual war. Obama knows this. And his nuanced approach would help America recover it's global prestige.

And the Houston Chronicle as well:

Obama appears to possess the tools to confront our myriad and daunting problems. He's thoughtful and analytical. He has met his opponents' attacks with calm and reasoned responses. Viewers of the debates saw a poised, well-prepared plausible president with well-articulated positions on the bread-and-butter issues that poll after poll indicate are the true concerns of voters. While Arizona Sen. John McCain and his running mate Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin have struck an increasingly personal and negative tone in their speeches, Obama has continued to talk about issues of substance.

Back in the spring, Obama's sentiments seemed more a hope than reality. Since then, we have watched him grow in the roles of candidate and leader, maintaining grace under fire without resorting to political expediency. He is by far the best choice to deliver the changes that Americans demand.

So yeah, what's going out there, Utah?  I expect the editors of the SL Tribune to get a lot of hate mail, threats of cancellation, and cancellations in the next few weeks.  But good on them for having some balls to tell it like it is; it can't be easy sticking your head out like that in one of the reddest states in the country.

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“The Iceman Cometh”

Posted by Charles Chen

If we've learned nothing else about Obama through this campaign and the debates, it's that his is a mind that is always on level ground.  Through all of the ups and downs of the campaign, through all of the attacks aimed to incite a fierce response from him, he has shown a personal stability which says volumes about what type of leader he would be.

David Brooks of the New York Times writes:

We’ve been watching Barack Obama for two years now, and in all that time there hasn’t been a moment in which he has publicly lost his self-control. This has been a period of tumult, combat, exhaustion and crisis. And yet there hasn’t been a moment when he has displayed rage, resentment, fear, anxiety, bitterness, tears, ecstasy, self-pity or impulsiveness.

There has never been a moment when, at least in public, he seems gripped by inner turmoil. It’s not willpower or self-discipline he shows as much as an organized unconscious. Through some deep, bottom-up process, he has developed strategies for equanimity, and now he’s become a homeostasis machine.

Through the debate, he was reassuring and self-composed. McCain, an experienced old hand, would blink furiously over the tension of the moment, but Obama didn’t reveal even unconscious signs of nervousness. There was no hint of an unwanted feeling.

... it is easy to sketch out a scenario in which he could be a great president. He would be untroubled by self-destructive demons or indiscipline. With that cool manner, he would see reality unfiltered. He could gather — already has gathered — some of the smartest minds in public policy, and, untroubled by intellectual insecurity, he could give them free rein. Though he is young, it is easy to imagine him at the cabinet table, leading a subtle discussion of some long-term problem.

Ruben Navarrette Jr. of CNN adds to this:

Make no mistake, Barack Obama is one cool customer. Now, after the last debate, it seems all but certain that the Iceman cometh to the White House.

In this week's match-up, Obama snatched the gloves out of McCain's hands and slapped him silly with them. I suppose the hope was that Obama would get rattled and make a mistake. But Obama doesn't get rattled or make many mistakes.

If nothing else, Obama's intellectual and analytical approach to the issues is a welcome change to the last eight years of George W. Bush.  With the financial crisis still smoldering and tensions abroad in Iran, a resurgent Al-Qaeda in Afghanistan, and a defiant North Korea, it should be no question who would be more fit to guide us through the gauntlet of domestic and foreign affairs.

Filed under: News 2 Comments

Even More Conservatives Bail…

Posted by Charles Chen

Seems like a pattern now.

Matthew Dowd, the chief strategist for W's reelection, says:

“They didn’t allow John McCain to pick the person he wanted for Vice President,” Dowd said, referring to Sen. Joe Lieberman, which undercut his experience argument and tethered McCain to the GOP base.

“He knows in his gut he put somebody unqualified on the ballot,” Dowd stressed, “and put the country at risk.”

Dowd also said the Palin pick, in contrast to Sen. Barack Obama’s choice of Sen. Joe Biden as his running mate, showed voters which candidate was “serious” about governing.

Also, an interesting case of McCain's campaign twisting the truth and manipulating the context to create a narrative that doesn't exist:

"This weekend," Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., said today, "a plumber concerned that Senator Obama was going to raise his taxes asked him directly about his plan. The response was telling. Senator Obama explained to him that he was going to raise his taxes to quote 'spread the wealth around.'"

Is that what happened?

Judge for yourself

You'll have to check the link for yourself to see if McCain's campaign is being fair.  Interestingly, as I was reading this blog post, I started to wonder what percentage of the tax paying population even understands how progressive tax brackets work.  To be honest, I never thought much of it until this year.  I don't think most people understand what progressive tax brackets mean. When some people hear that the top tax bracket is going to be at 39% under Obama's plan, they think that someone making $250,001 will be taxed at 39% when in reality, only the $1 will be taxed at 39%.

Brad Friedman has a nice write up on the whole ACORN faux outrage by the Republicans over "voter fraud":

Here are the facts. Acorn verifies the legitimacy of every registration its canvassers collect. If they can't authenticate the registration, or it's incomplete or questionable in other ways, they flag that form as problematic ("fraudulent", "incomplete", et cetera). They then hand in all registration forms, even the problematic ones, to elections officials, as they are required to do by law. In almost every case where you've heard about fraud by Acorn, it's because Acorn itself notified officials about the fraud that's been perpetrated on them by rogue canvassers. Most officials who run to the media screaming "Acorn is committing fraud" know all of the above but don't bother to share those facts with the media they've run to. None of this is about voter fraud. None of it. Where any fraud has occurred, it's voter registration fraud and has resulted in exactly zero fraudulent votes.

Of course, the outrage is completely unjustified, but what makes it all the more humorous is that McCain has also spoken on behalf of ACORN:

The beleaguered Democratic-leaning community group Acorn sends over this photograph: John McCain, in March of 2006, sitting beside Florida Rep. Kendrick Meek at an event Acorn co-sponsored in Florida.

The immigration event, which other photos show was packed with red-shirted Acorn member, was co-sponsored by the local Catholic Archdiocese, the SEIU, and other groups.

McCain, still spiting much of his party on immigration at the time, was the headliner.

And how about a video to go with that?

So was McCain for ACORN before he was against it?  So can we stop the faux outrage over this issue already?  It's a non-sequitur; organizationally, ACORN did everything right and by the book.  It hired some low wage workers who created fraudulent registrations, but they filtered those out and flagged them as fraudulent and the workers were fired or disciplined.

Jim Cramer also shares his thoughts on an Obama presidency versus as McCain presidency and what it could mean for the economy:

What will New York look like a year from now? The answer: bad and probably worse, and perhaps downright catastrophic. Three degrees of awful. The first step was passing the bank-bailout legislation. Now that it’s done—and if it didn’t get done we would have been looking at a guaranteed economic collapse—the critical issue will be presidential leadership. And while any president will be an improvement over the current one, there is a growing belief on Wall Street that Barack Obama has the capacity to lead us out of this wilderness while John McCain does not. I’ll go a step further: Obama is a recession. McCain is a depression.

Wall Street usually favors Republicans when it comes to managing the economy, but this time around the financial community is skeptical. John McCain has done everything he can to avoid talking about the economy, lest he be tarred with the brush of George Bush’s ineptitude. And when McCain has attempted to step into the fray, he’s been far from reassuring. First, he insisted that the fundamentals of the economy were sound; then he turned around and told us it was the end of the economic world as we know it, and suspended his campaign to scramble back to Washington and save the day on the bailout bill—only to have little visible effect. For all his talk of being a maverick, McCain looks an awful lot like President Bush on the credit crisis: He doesn’t seem to understand Wall Street or Main Street, he is dogmatically anti-regulation, and his economic team is a joke. Carly Fiorina almost destroyed the onetime best technology company in America, Hewlett-Packard, and Meg Whitman took eBay, the best dot-com player, and turned it into a mediocre franchise that has no growth. Both are perceived by Wall Street to be also-rans who are on the team because they have nothing else to do.

Obama is no messiah, of course, but there’s a reason the Street sees him as a more capable manager of the credit crisis. He seems to understand the complexity of the problem, and while he’s nobody’s populist, he’s at least perceived as less tone-deaf to everyday Americans’ problems than his opponent. Obama also has a better team, in the likes of Larry Summers, the renowned economist and former Harvard president who probably knows more about this crisis than anyone, and Warren Buffett, the smartest man in business, period. And Obama is a globalist, in an age where the world’s economies are increasingly interdependent.

Carly Fiorina?  I mean, really, is she the one that you really want to be your surrogate on the economy?  Really?

Filed under: News 1 Comment

More Conservatives Jump Ship

Posted by Charles Chen

Conservatives seems to be splitting into two groups over this election: intellectual conservatives and cultural conservatives (well, there's a group of plain old dumbasses like Hannity).

As the Huffington Post reported, RedState co-founder Joshua Trevino couldn't bring himself to vote for McCain when his ballot came.

In the end, I couldn't do it. My California ballot arrived in the mail today, and I opened it fully intending to vote for John McCain. I filled out the state propositions first -- yes on 8, no on everything proposing a new bond or new spending -- then the local offices, straight Republican excepting Kevin Johnson for (nonpartisan) Sacramento mayor. Finally, the vote for President of the United States: an academic exercise in California, where Barack Obama will surely win by a crushing margin. But good citizenship demands voting as if it matters. Do I believe in John McCain? Not as much as I used to. Do I believe in Sarah Palin? Despite my early enthusiasm for her, now not at all. Do I believe in the national Republican Party? Not in the slightest -- even though I see no meaningful alternative to it.

Wick Allison of D Magazine writes in A Conservative for Obama:

THE MORE I LISTEN TO AND READ ABOUT “the most liberal member of the U.S. Senate,” the more I like him. Barack Obama strikes a chord with me like no political figure since Ronald Reagan.

The Bush tax cuts—a solution for which there was no real problem and which he refused to end even when the nation went to war—led to huge deficit spending and a $3 trillion growth in the federal debt. Facing this, John McCain pumps his “conservative” credentials by proposing even bigger tax cuts. Meanwhile, a movement that once fought for limited government has presided over the greatest growth of government in our history. That is not conservatism; it is profligacy using conservatism as a mask.

Today it is conservatives, not liberals, who talk with alarming bellicosity about making the world “safe for democracy.” It is John McCain who says America’s job is to “defeat evil,” a theological expansion of the nation’s mission that would make George Washington cough out his wooden teeth.

This kind of conservatism, which is not conservative at all, has produced financial mismanagement, the waste of human lives, the loss of moral authority, and the wreckage of our economy that McCain now threatens to make worse.

Barack Obama is not my ideal candidate for president. (In fact, I made the maximum donation to John McCain during the primaries, when there was still hope he might come to his senses.) But I now see that Obama is almost the ideal candidate for this moment in American history. I disagree with him on many issues. But those don’t matter as much as what Obama offers, which is a deeply conservative view of the world. Nobody can read Obama’s books (which, it is worth noting, he wrote himself) or listen to him speak without realizing that this is a thoughtful, pragmatic, and prudent man. It gives me comfort just to think that after eight years of George W. Bush we will have a president who has actually read the Federalist Papers.

Obama's realist and pragmatic world view is perhaps best reflected in his time as a professer of Constitutional Law at the University of Chicago, as Alexandra Starr writes in the International Herlad Tribue.

When Jaime Escuder, a University of Chicago law student, was searching for a professor to supervise an independent project on prisoners' rights, he turned to Barack Obama, but not for Obama's politics. As a student in Obama's constitutional law class in 2001, Escuder was impressed by his teacher's ability to see both sides of an argument.

"I figured Obama would respect the stance I took in the paper, whether or not he agreed with it," said Escuder, now a public defender in Illinois.

...the men and women who studied with him at Chicago echo Escuder's observation that Obama was much more pragmatic than ideological. Even as his political career advanced, Obama's teaching stuck to the law-school norm of dispassionately evaluating competing arguments with the tools of forensic logic.

"You could tell from the course evaluations and enrollments that students had really taken to him," [Douglas] Baird said.

Dan Johnson-Weinberger, who lobbies for progressive causes in Illinois, said he thought his former professor was unlikely to emerge as an ideological liberal if he makes it to the White House. "Based on what I saw in the classroom," he said, "my guess is an Obama administration could be summarized in two words: Ruthless pragmatism."

"I don't think he's wedded to any particular ideology," Johnson-Weinberger told me. "If he has an impatience about anything, it's the idea that some proposals aren't worthy of consideration."

These last two points are perhaps what has swayed many intellectual conservatives who have looked at his history and actually read his books and read his policy manual (extensive).  McCain likes to paint Obama as an inexperienced and liberal know-nothing, but the fact of the matter is that such a portrait could not be further from the truth.  His appeal lies in his ability to evaluate ideas without bias and his willingness to hear both sides of the argument. 

It will be interesting to see how the Republican party is reshaped after this election.  It has brought the worst aspects of the party to the forefront of the discussions and I think this has effectively turned away many intellectual conservatives in disgust while the cultural conservatives cheer on ther pit-bull hockey mom, with McCain almost as an afterthought.

By the way, as an interesting note, as I noticed that Jill Biden's name was prefixed with "Dr.": Barack, Michelle, Joe, and Jill all have post graduate degrees (Jill and Michelle have multiple).  In addition, it often goes unnoticed, but Obama majored in political science with a specialization in international relations.

Filed under: News 2 Comments

A Sinking Ship

Posted by Charles Chen

Christopher Buckley straps on his lifevest:

Sorry, Dad, I'm Voting for Obama

Let me be the latest conservative/libertarian/whatever to leap onto the Barack Obama bandwagon. It’s a good thing my dear old mum and pup are no longer alive. They’d cut off my allowance.

Or would they?

...Sarah Palin is an embarrassment, and a dangerous one at that. [Kathleen Parker]’s not exactly alone. New York Times columnist David Brooks, who began his career at NR, just called Governor Palin “a cancer on the Republican Party.”

...John McCain has changed. He said, famously, apropos the Republican debacle post-1994, “We came to Washington to change it, and Washington changed us.” This campaign has changed John McCain. It has made him inauthentic. A once-first class temperament has become irascible and snarly; his positions change, and lack coherence; he makes unrealistic promises, such as balancing the federal budget “by the end of my first term.” Who, really, believes that?

As for Senator Obama: He has exhibited throughout a “first-class temperament,” pace Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr.’s famous comment about FDR.

I’ve read Obama’s books, and they are first-rate. He is that rara avis, the politician who writes his own books. Imagine.

Obama has in him—I think, despite his sometimes airy-fairy “We are the people we have been waiting for” silly rhetoric—the potential to be a good, perhaps even great leader. He is, it seems clear enough, what the historical moment seems to be calling for.

So, I wish him all the best. We are all in this together. Necessity is the mother of bipartisanship. And so, for the first time in my life, I’ll be pulling the Democratic lever in November. As the saying goes, God save the United States of America.

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Getting SharePoint Task Assignee

Posted by Charles Chen

One of the more interesting problems I've been working with is trying to figure out how to get the user information for the assignee (whom the task is assigned to). Getting the user ID and the the user display name is easy enough, but then that entails another lookup to find the the login name for the user.

For example, here is some code which retrieves the user information, but as a string:

using (SPSite site = new SPSite(siteUrl))
    using (SPWeb web = site.OpenWeb())
        SPList tasks = web.Lists["Tasks"];

        foreach (SPListItem task in tasks.Items)
            string assignedTo = Convert.ToString(task["Assigned To"]);

            Console.Out.WriteLine("> {0}", assignedTo);

This generates the following output:

> 37;#Brad Wright

> 40;#Daniel OConnor

> 46;#Charles

As mentioned, this is only part of the information we're after. To get the login name, we'd have to do some simple string parsing and then make a separate call to look up the user. Not a terrible amount of work, but more work, nonetheless.

Stepping through the debugger, I could see that the actual type of the field was SPFieldUserValue. My first attempt was to see if I could convert the value directly; no go. It turns out that the value retrieved (before calling the ToString()) is already a string. I ended up fumbling around with the very awkward GetFieldValue() method on the SPField class. It's not at all intuitive on how this method is supposed to be used, so I'm hoping this is useful:

using (SPSite site = new SPSite(siteUrl))
    using (SPWeb web = site.OpenWeb())
        SPList tasks = web.Lists["Tasks"];

        foreach (SPListItem task in tasks.Items)
            string fieldValue = Convert.ToString(task["Assigned To"]);

            SPFieldUserValue assignedTo = (SPFieldUserValue)
                task.Fields["Assigned To"].GetFieldValue(fieldValue);

            Console.Out.WriteLine("> {0} ({1})", 
                assignedTo.User.Name, assignedTo.User.LoginName);

And here is the output

> Brad Wright (FP1\bwright)

> Daniel OConnor (FP1\doconnor)

> Charles (FP1\charles)

The call is all kind of awkward and is completely non-intuitive. It's easier to think of it as item.Fields["Some Field"].ConvertToNativeOutputType(fieldValue). So you can see, this is a much more convenient way of retrieving the user from a list item (or any typed return value) once you get the hang of the weird nomenclature and usability issues.

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The Unexpected

Posted by Charles Chen

As usual, the NRA endorsed a Republican candidate.  But in an unexpected move that no one saw coming, the American Hunters & Shooters Association has endorsed Barack Obama.

Senator Obama has clearly demonstrated his commitment to the 2nd Amendment.

His support of the Vitter amendment to HR 5441, the Department of Homeland Security Appropriations bill of 2007, is particularly telling. This amendment prevents the Government from confiscating guns in a time of crisis or emergency. Senator Obama's vote demonstrated a fundamental understanding of the meaning of the 2nd Amendment which means he recognizes the individual right of all citizens to keep and bear arms.

In addition, Senator Obama's commitment to conservation and protection of our natural resources and access to public lands demonstrates to us his commitment to America's hunting and shooting heritage.

Senator Obama will be a strong and authentic voice for America's hunters and shooters and it is with great pleasure that we endorse his candidacy.

It often slips by that Obama graduated from Harvard Law and was the selected to be the frst black president of the Harvard Law Review.  Not to mention that he taught Constitutional Law at the University of Chicago.  I think if there's one guy that's going to stand up for your Constitutional rights, it's this guy.

There is some controversy as to whether this group is legitimately pro-2nd Amendment, but the quote from their wiki page sums up their view the best:

"Because the gun issue has recently become a factor in the Democratic primary in Pennsylvania, I want to share the remarks I made today... [Millions of gun owners] not only wanted an organization that would protect their gun rights but an organization that was also committed to the protection of their communities as well as the protection of our lands."

The "communities" part is the most important, IMO.  Obviously, what is sensible in rural South Dakota isn't necessarily what is sensible in downtown Newark.

What's perhaps a bit more amusing is the Rednecks for Obama group.  A great quote from one of the group's founders:

"I don't care about his beer, I care about his intelligence.  We've had many democratic presidents, and we will still have our guns.  He is brilliant.  And he's not an elitist, though he has the education to be."

-Tony Viessman

Well said, Tony, well said.

And if you are still asking yourself "just who is Barack Obama?" then check out this Youtube video.

The kids are too damn cute.

Filed under: News No Comments